Apocryphal FADS2 activity promotes fatty acid diversification in cancer
Canonical fatty acid metabolism describes specific enzyme-substrate interactions that result in products with well-defined chain lengths, degree(s), and positions of unsaturation. Deep profiling of lipids across a range of prostate cancer cell lines reveals a variety of fatty acids with unusual site(s) of unsaturation that are not described by canonical pathways. The structure and abundance of these unusual lipids correlate with changes in desaturase expression and are strong indicators of cellular phenotype. Gene silencing and stable isotope tracing demonstrate that direct Δ6 and Δ8 desaturation of 14:0 (myristic), 16:0 (palmitic), and 18:0 (stearic) acids by FADS2 generate new families of unsaturated fatty acids (including n-8, n-10, and n-12) that have rarely—if ever—been reported in human-derived cells. Isomer-resolved lipidomics reveals the selective incorporation of these unusual fatty acids into complex structural lipids and identifies their presence in cancer tissues, indicating functional roles in membrane structure and signaling.
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